Pakistan’s National Youth Carnival brings madrassa, mainstream students together

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A student at a singing competition during the National Youth Carnival 2017 in Peshawar on Monday. (AN photo)
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A student at a painting competition during the National Youth Carnival 2017 at Peshawar Sports Complex. (AN photo)
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A traditional Qehwa stall at the National Youth Carnival 2017 at Peshawar Sports Complex. (AN photo)
Updated 12 December 2017
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Pakistan’s National Youth Carnival brings madrassa, mainstream students together

PESHAWAR: Monday’s rain failed to dampen the enthusiasm of the crowd gathered at the Peshawar Sports Complex to enjoy the National Youth Carnival 2017 — also attended this year by madrassa students.
“The annual event was launched in 2013, and each year we try to improve it,” Mohammed Usman from Liaison Corp., which is managing the event, told Arab News.
“This year, we decided to include madrassa students because they’re considered a deprived segment of society, and they normally have few opportunities of this kind.”
The carnival, which started on Dec. 8, is the biggest extra-curricular activity for youth in Pakistan, he said.
Shahid Amin, a teacher at Jamiat-ur-Rashid in Karachi, said 21 students from the madrassa are participating in 14 categories.
“This is the first time we participate in such an event. Our students are competing in categories such as painting, calligraphy, qirat, na’at, essay writing and others,” he told Arab News.
Amin lauded Peshawar’s hospitality, and encouraged more madrassas to participate in such events.
Student Rehmat Wali, who is participating in an essay-writing competition, told Arab News that there should be such a competition in Arabic too since most madrassa students know the language.
Saddam Khan, a student at Abasyn University, said each of the 30 categories is being managed by five or six volunteers, most of them university students.
Asfandyar Khattak, director of youth affairs in the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), said the carnival selection trials for candidates began on Oct. 5, and 13,000 students took part in the preliminary competitions. He added that 1,100 students are now participating at the provincial and national levels.
Besides accessing regular schools and colleges, an online form was made available, through which 350 private students applied for the carnival, Khattak said, adding that 17 madrassas were invited to participate.
“Most of the madrassa students are participating in qirat, na’at, calligraphy, painting and essay writing in different languages,” he told Arab News.
It is a great opportunity to promote extra-curricular activities and integrate madrassa students into mainstream activities, he said, adding that the event is improving with each passing year.
“Last year we conducted competitions in 26 categories. This year there are 30. We plan to include oral and written competitions in Arabic next year, since most madrassa students are adept at the language,” he said.
Sports Minister Mehmood Khan and KPK Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser said the provincial government spent 65 million Pakistani rupees ($593,450) on the event. Prizes worth 5 million Pakistani rupees are being given to competition winners, they added.
Youth from member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) — comprising Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, the Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka — will be invited to next year’s event, Qaiser said.


Wanted Sri Lanka radical Hashim died in hotel attack

Updated 32 min 56 sec ago
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Wanted Sri Lanka radical Hashim died in hotel attack

  • Hashim appeared in a video released by the Daesh group after they claimed the bombings
  • The president said he was killed during the Shangri-La attack

COLOMBO: An extremist believed to have played a key role in Sri Lanka’s deadly Easter bombings died in an attack on a Colombo hotel, the country’s president confirmed Friday.
“What intelligence agencies have told me is that Zahran was killed during the Shangri-La attack,” President Maithripala Sirisena told reporters, referring to Zahran Hashim, leader of a local extremist group.
Hashim appeared in a video released by the Daesh group after they claimed the bombings, but his whereabouts after the blasts was not immediately clear.
Sirisena did not immediately clarify what Hashim’s role was in the attack on the Shangri-La, one of six bomb blasts that killed over 250 people on Sunday.

Meanwhile, Sirisena also said police are looking for 140 people believed to have links with the Daesh group over the attacks.
Sirisena told reporters some Sri Lankan youths had been involved with the extremist group since 2013, and that top defense and police chiefs had not shared information with him about the impending attacks.
He also blamed Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government for weakening the intelligence system by focusing on the prosecution of military officers over alleged war crimes during a decade-long civil war with Tamil separatists.